Protecting Your Online Reputation – The Importance of Privacy Settings
By Jan Ashby
You have to be visible to build an online reputation. There’s no way around it. However, in most online networks you can control exactly what information people can see about you. This is done through privacy settings.
Facebook’s privacy settings are extremely detailed but can be complicated. They also change often, which doesn’t make it any easier. Under ‘Privacy,’ click on ‘Profile’, and then ‘Basic.’ Here you can set who sees which information. You can choose different groups, such as your close friends, friends of friends, anyone in your network, and so on. You can set this for your basic information, personal information, updates, tagged photos and videos, and contact information.
Settings can be changed for each individual photo or video. When people tag you in a photo or video, it automatically appears on your Timeline, but you can remove it or change the settings for it if you don’t want everyone seeing that photo or video.
Also under ‘Privacy,‘ you’ll see ‘Search.’ Here you can change how users find you through searches, although most companies leave this open so that their profile is easy to find.
Everything on Twitter is public by default. Your profile is so small that there’s not much private information you could give away. Unlike Facebook, where you have to confirm friend requests, you have no control over who follows you on Twitter. However, you can set it so that follower requests must be confirmed. You can do this by going under ‘Settings‘ and clicking the box that says ‘Protect my updates.’
Most companies keep everything public on Twitter. It’s not in their best interest to turn away would-be followers. Some celebrities use the privacy settings to create multiple feeds, one for fans and one for people they’re closer to.
Instagram is all about sharing photos and you have little control over who snaps you and shares. You can control your own photos’ privacy by going under ‘Profile‘ and then ‘Settings,’ and if you’re using an Apple device, set ‘Photos are Private‘ on the ON setting. If you’re using an Android OS, click on ‘photo privacy’ for options. Doing this blocks your feed from everyone except for followers you approve.
On LinkedIn, you can change both your profile’s privacy settings and how your profile appears in searches. Go under ‘My Account,’ ‘Account & Settings,’ and then ‘Public Profile‘ to adjust your profile settings. Under ‘Settings’ and ‘View Preferences,’ you can control how you come up in searches.
Your Privacy on Social Media
Don’t rely completely on privacy settings. They’re not foolproof. Many users have accidentally published private information about themselves on Facebook because they didn’t understand how its privacy settings worked. Others have embarrassed themselves horribly by tweeting the wrong thing on Twitter. Use social media with the assumption that anything in your profile, updates or other content could be seen by anyone. If you really want to keep something private, don’t post it at all.